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2013 NCAA Tournament - The Minnesota Gopher Fan Guide To Austin, Texas

Food, Drinks, Fun. Are you one of the lucky folks headed down to Austin to watch the Gophers? Then you'll want to take a look at these recommendations, written by two of TDG's very own.


Austin, Texas. This is a road trip I've always wanted to take. When the football home and home against Texas fell through I was extremely bummed. And as much as I'd like to go now, finances and my commitment to make sure the women's hockey team gets as much pub as possible prevents me now. But I know that's not true for all the folks who read TDG. So I asked our Texas based commenters if they might be willing to share their favorite spots in Austin and got back two fantastic responses. So without further delay, I give to you The Daily Gopher's "Minnesota Fan Guide to Austin, Texas!"

Marshmoose's Picks

Where to Eat:

Austin is a foodie town - bar none. Food trucks, awesome restaurants, if you're a foodie, you're in the right town. This is a severely limited list, so nominate your top picks in the comments section, but here's where I take my friends and family when they visit:

Breakfast - Breakfast Tacos, breakfast tacos, breakfast tacos. In the Midwest, you have greasy spoon cafes like Al's Breakfast or Keys Cafe. In Texas, it's all about the breakfast tacos. Torchy's Tacos is a local favorite, along with Juan in a Million and Taco Deli. You really can't go wrong with any of them.

Lunch - BBQ - If you have time you NEED to go to Franklin BBQ. The line starts forming around 8-9am most weekends, doors open at 11am and they sell food until they run out, usually around 1pm, so bring a lawn chair and a 12-pack of beer. It's Austin, don't worry about it. This place is not only rated among the top echelon of places to BBQ places but also best places to eat period. The food is actually worth the 2-3 hour wait. Get there early if you want brisket, which sells out quickly, but most locals know they can get ribs, pulled pork, sausage or chopped beef if they show up around noon and get in line then.

Dinner - BBQ in the Hill Country. If you ask most people about BBQ in Austin, they'll talk about the BBQ gem of the Hill Country - the Salt Lick in Driftwood, TX. It's about a 30 minute drive outside of town, but worth every mile. If all-you-can-eat brisket, pork ribs, sausage and sides for $20 on a country ranch with live music and open-pits with piles and piles of delicious meats doesn't interest you, check your pulse. It's cash-only and BYOB, so make a stop at the beer store and an ATM on your way out, and don't make any plans for afterwards you can't bail on, because many a night have been ended early by beer and BBQ coma.

Honorable Mention - Tex Mex. Austin has some of the best Tex Mex. Check out Chuy's original location on Barton Springs Road, Trudy's up by campus or El Arroyo out off far West 5th street. All are solid choices

Where to Stay:

Get a room downtown. There's not a whole lot of options in Austin, but if you can swing it, try to stay downtown or near Town Lake. It's more spendy, but you'll save money on cab rides in the long run. Everything of interest in Austin is reasonably walkable

Where to Party:

East (Dirty) 6th Street - This is what most people talk about when they talk about Austin. 60+ bars in a 6 block stretch makes State Street in Madison look conservative. In terms of feel, I'd compare it to Dinkytown or the downtown Minneapolis bars, where it's mostly kids with newly minted IDs and not the place to have a conversation, but if you're looking to grind on 21 year olds to loud top-40 hits, this place is for you. Never a bad time, and certainly a great place for people watching.

West 6th - This area is a lot more chill, with many roof-top patio bars and a great place to have a drink and a conversation. I'd compare it to Uptown bars, and some bars do have a dress code, and an abundance of cologne and arrogance, but lots of cool stuff here. Kung Fu Saloon is a must if you're in the area

Warehouse District - This area is a bunch of old warehouses that have been converted to bars. The Minnesota club meets at Lavaca Street Bar and we'll be having a Hockey/Hoops watch party there Friday night.

Rainey Street - This area is all houses that have been converted to bars, and are VERY cool. There's no Minnesota equivalent - it's truly an Austin original. A great place to have a conversation and get the Austin vibe, but don't expect a party to break out. Check out Lustre Pearl for a drink and G'raj Mahal for some Indian truck food.

The East Side - The Hipster Haven of Austin is the area of 6th Street east of I-35 and has a lot of really awesome bars and is very relaxed. This area used to be pretty rough, but has been gentrified and hipsterized over the past few years and is safe nowdays. Most bars have a food trailer permanently parked out back, including another nationally relevant food truck East Side King. These are the types of bars where you get a beer, walk into the backyard, park your ass on a picnic table and chat with everyone around you.

Other Areas of Interest:

Here's some more cool stuff to check out if you've got time to kill:

Barton Springs Pool - a spring-fed pool at a constant 6open to the public, open year round. $3 admission and bring a swimsuit. No beer allowed.

Zilker Park - Big park with a disc golf course. This is where the Austin City Limits Music Festival is held.

Texas State Capitol - TTYYYEEAXAS!!! Did you know the Texas Capitol building is the tallest and taller than the US Capitol building? You'll hear that about a dozen times. Free tours all day, and a short walk up Congress from 6th Street, and pretty cool to check out.

University of Texas Campus - Just north of the Capitol building, a cool place to check out.

South Congress Ave (SoCo) - Another cool area, but I haven't spent much time down that way, so I don't have much to say about it.


Rencito's Picks


Food Trucks - Much of Austin's best food comes out of food trucks--which may be an odd concept to get used to at first, but trust me when I say it is high quality. Here are a few of my favorites:

G'raj Mahal - Indian

Torchy's Tacos

East Side Kings (locations at multiple bars) - Asian fusion

Crepes Mille - they have great savory crepes in addition to sweet crepes; they are open really weird hours, however

Kebobilicious - I first had this after arriving back in Austin after a trip to Istanbul-the kebabs here actually rival what I had in Turkey. One of my favorites.

Hey Cupcake!

Non-food truck restaurants:

Franklin Barbecue--you need to wait in line for a few hours, but they serve beer/soda and it is almost like tailgating when you are there waiting. Please trust me when I say this is the best BBQ in the world--which is why people wait in line for 90 minutes or so. Don't even bother with other barbecue places. Franklin is only open for lunch and they are open until they run out of meat--2:00 or so.

Hopdoddy - best burger in America; they grind their own meat, bake their own bread, cut their own potatoes, and everything is fresh, not frozen--try the Llano Poblano; they also make their own ice cream for shakes, the salted caramel is the best

Amy's Ice Cream

Sway - Asian fusion

Fonda San Miguel - great Mexican; not the crappy Tex-Mex stuff, but authentic Mexican, which is actually tough to find. It is a bit out of the way, but a great restaurant. Go with the chicken mole.

Peche - modern American; fantastic cocktails place

Vespaio - GREAT Italian restaurant, which is ironic for Texas, but rivals any I've had anywhere in the US.

Parkside - seafood/steak

Moonshine - southern food

Home Slice Pizza - NY style


Downtown E. 6th Street in Austin is what put the city on the map. It can be a frat party for sure, but there are bands playing in many of the bars and you can see some good ones. This is the best place for people watching as the entire street is one big party.

If you go on the other side of I-35 on E 6th Street there are some spectacular laid back, original Austin places such as Liberty Bar and Shangri La. They are still keeping Austin weird. Both have East Side Kings food there-you won't be disappointed.

W. 6th Street tends to be an older crowd than E 6th Street. And by older, I mean 30ish. All the bars over there tend to be more alike than different. Key Bar is nice and Dogwood has Deep Eddy's Sweet Tea Vodka on tap, which is great when mixed with lemonade. A nice little find that people tend to overlook is Dirty Bill's which as a small but decent beer list and more laid back, but very small.

The 4th/Colorado area is another spot downtown with a plurality of rooftop bars. They aren't hard to find once you are there. Six Lounge and Hanger Bar are rather similar. There is a very cool place called Peche-they make fantastic cocktails and have a good selection of liquor. My girlfriend was pleased to see they even had Templeton Rye there. They also have great food, but it is upscale for sure. Gingerman is a beer lover's heaven and is much more laid back than many other places downtown, but they don't have liquor.

Rainy Street: this is kind of a cool area where most of the bars were once houses, so it feels like a neighborhood. Like many other things in Austin, it has gotten crowded of late. It used to be pretty laid back but it gets to be pretty crowded now. The places over there are fun, however. My favorites are Lustre Pearl and Icenhauer's.

South Congress: If you stay the whole weekend in Austin, walking up and down South Congress is fun thing to do during the day. There are a bunch of food trucks (Hey Cupcake has the best cupcakes I have ever had) and funky shops. Hopdoddy, Vespaio, Home Slice, and Amy's Ice Cream are all located here. If you are out at night, The Continental Club is to Austin's music roots what First Avenue is to Minneapolis. It is a small club with good music and a laid back original Austin vibe. Since the games in Austin are on Friday/Sunday, Doc's is a good sports bar to watch the games on Saturday during the day.

Day of the game: The stadium is a bit isolated from anything. Between sessions on Friday I'm probably going to go to Scholz Garten which is a German beer garden. I recall the wings being pretty good there.


Thanks to both Marshmoose and Rencito for taking the time to write up their recommendations and sharing them with us! Have an Austin favorite to add? Share it in the comments!

You can follow rencito on Twitter (@rencito_4040). Feel free to tweet at him if you're in Austin.